When I first considered joining my studio’s yoga teacher training, I was doubtful. My own practice felt amateur. I assumed I must not be ready. But then one of the facilitators caught word of my interest. After practice one day, she stopped me and asked, “are you joining us? I hemmed and hawed. “I don’t know. I can barely practice headstand."
“Don’t worry,” she responded. “We’ll help you. And we’ll show you how to help others.”
Thanks to her invitation, I started my yoga training. Throughout the process, I maintained my original desire to deepen my yogic knowledge and I also developed a passion for teaching. My teacher’s encouragement empowered me towards greater learning, integration into my community, and ultimately an unexpected shift in career path.
I think of this whenever I promote my own offerings. I’ve collaborated with so many friends and colleagues who groan when we get to marketing. “I hate it! I feel so uncomfortable!” they protest. And I understand their reluctance. When we promote our yoga classes, trainings, workshops, and retreats we can feel like we’re taking up too much space, bombarding those we know, and I think at the heart of it, we feel a bit exposed. A nurse doesn’t have to constantly invite others to get treatment—a nurse focuses on the job of treating. As yoga teachers, I think some part of us just wants to teach. However, at this place in this time we also have to let students know what it is that we are equipped to teach.
While I do share some of the concerns and reservations around promoting what I offer in the yoga world, I also remember what my teacher gave me when she promoted the studio’s teacher training. She gave me confidence and an invitation to join. The training itself was wonderful. I was steeped in the learning that I craved. I lost my shy anonymity in the studio and gained community. And I was equipped with the tools to teach, which in turn has made me a better student. Her promotion did me a service.
Here are five tips to confidently share your offerings with others:
1. Give context
Creating a Facebook event or a webpage is a wonderful way to centralize information about what you’re offering, but, simply sharing the link on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram is unlikely to capture people’s attention. Instead, share a few pertinent details so that those who might benefit from this event know why! For example, if you’re offering a workshop on adjusting and assisting you might caption by writing, “Those in or near Philadelphia: join us in strengthening your capacity around touch! Learn how to safely and smartly offer hands on assists!” In two sentences, you can orient geographically, by subject, and target your market.
2. Offer images
You don’t have to photograph yourself doing yoga in a bikini (unless that really empowers you and those nearest and dearest). However, you can either take or use stock photos (attribute wherever possible) to help your potential participants envision themselves in your offering. There is a lot of noise on the internet. A relevant image can slow the scroll and spark someone’s imagination. I tend to offer retreats in off-the-beaten path destinations. Sharing a photo of a room someone might stay in, or the yoga studio space, can help a participant imagine themselves in that setting. This can create the possibility.
3. Study and train and believe in your own capacity
If your own knowledge around what you’re teaching is shaky, you will feel insecure. Yoga helps us gain self-awareness so that we can know when we need to bolster our own study and we can also recognize when it’s simply nerves. One way I try to gauge if I’m ready to expand into a new opportunity or teaching material is if I’ve been invited to do so. I’ve had students ask me to teach certain subject matter. Within reason, I’ll study that material diligently and create a setting to teach. I’ll feel nervous, but I work to feel confident in the time I’ve offered to this topic.
I feel gratitude to all my teachers who have offered me their time and energy. I feel thankful to all the authors who shared their knowledge in books and interviews so that I can be edified. I orient myself in this lineage of learning and sharing and believe in my own capacity. It is empowering to be confident in your knowledge and simultaneously humble about your limits. It inspires great trust with your students when you can tell them that you don’t know the answer to their question, but here is what you do know. Orient yourself firmly in your own resources and gifts. Know that you’re offering something valuable. Remember how much you yourself have benefitted from the knowledge you’ve received. Be generous. Offer what you know.
4. Get to know your students
Each yoga class creates its own culture. As the teacher, you have influence. When students walk in the door, if you know their name, greet them by name. If you don’t know their name simply say, “Hi!” Be friendly! Be welcoming! When you have an opportunity, ask your student how they are. Ask them about their day. Ask them about their goals in yoga practice. As you become interested in them, you’ll often find them become interested in one another. I’m so grateful to see so many classes becoming communities. The students feel more accountable to one another and that helps them be more consistent in their practice. They also feel more comfortable with one another and interested in spending time together. I’ve often met a new student who is seeking community— this is part of why they came to class! This type of person greatly benefits from a yoga retreat, it’s a great opportunity to spend time and get to know people. When you know your students, you know how to serve them.
5. Be honest
We live in a consumer culture that sells everything. No one wants to feel like a product. As yoga teachers, we can feel like we’re selling ourselves when we’re marketing our personality as part of the yoga class. It feels gross to us and it doesn’t feel good to students. I think our best bet is to acknowledge where we are. We don’t want ourselves nor this practice to be a product. We are members of a long lineage of students and teachers sharing knowledge with one another. We have different language, techniques, and styles in doing so. What a gift! We can seek out teachers who spark our imagination and curiosity but only if we can find them. As teachers sharing what we have to offer, simply be honest. Don’t candy coat or mislead your students about what you can offer nor yourself. Ultimately, it’s about the practice, not any of us as individuals. We’re all working to be a conduit. Orient yourself within this graceful framework.
Yoga is rich with topics to explore in great depth and with time. Be accountable to your teachers and the teachings and share what you know! Yoga encourages us to be generous and honest, not withholding with our knowledge and gifts. Be clear and communicative about what you have to offer. Find yourself within this beautiful lineage of sharing and receiving.
Photo by Kate and Keith Photography